SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. » You don’t see this every day.
Six runs scored is not that unusual in Little League. Getting those six on just one hit? That classifies in a different category.
Doesn’t matter what the hit column on the scoreboard says. It’s the one located just left of it that counts.
Down 4-0 entering the bottom of the fourth, Waipio rallied to score all six of its runs and got its lone hit — a three-run homer by Matthew Campos — then held on to eliminate Hamilton, Ohio, 6-4 yesterday afternoon in the Little League World Series.
Waipio took advantage of seven walks and three hit basemen to score its six runs, plating five of them with two outs in the fourth.
Ezra Heleski, who hasn’t thrown since Hawaii’s state tournament, was the winning pitcher, entering in the fourth and shutting down Hamilton. He gave up one hit and struck out five.
"I wasn’t so sure of myself because I didn’t pitch in such a long time," Heleski said. "I was surprised because my teammates were warming up in the bullpen. When I got to throw my warm-up pitches, I felt that I could do good up there."
Hawaii plays Columbus, Ga., today at 1 p.m., Hawaii time. Waipio would need two straight wins in order to advance to Saturday’s American final.
"I still can’t believe it," Hawaii manager Brian Yoshii said. "When we were trailing by the four runs, I told them to never quit. The only thing I can really say is these kids never give up and leave everything on the field. Somehow, we got lucky."
In the other dugout was a look of disbelief.
Hamilton was in firm control, leading 4-0 — thanks to a home run by Ryan Robinson, a two-run double by Brooks Robinson and an RBI single to center by clean-up hitter Bryce Couch.
Add to it that Brooks Robinson was tossing a no-hitter through three innings, walking one and striking out five the first time through Waipio’s order.
It’s Little League baseball, though, and things can turn in a hurry.
The Hamilton pitcher plunked Ty DeSa with a pitch, then followed with back-to-back free passes to Shiloh Baniaga and Kaimana Bartolome.
All of a sudden, the fire was lit. Waipio had the bases loaded with no outs.
"Really, it’s hard to say what happened with Brooks," Hamilton manager Ken Coomer said. "You hate to take him out because he was throwing a no-hitter, and you just hope that he calms down. After he walked the first batter, he started to get frustrated. He didn’t get some close calls, and he started to complain a little bit. We tried to calm him down a few times, but it’s Little League baseball, I guess."
Robinson settled down, getting two straight outs — one of those an RBI fielder’s choice by Noah Shackles.
That’s when the floodgates opened.
Campos, in his first at-bat, took a healthy cut and crushed the pitch over the center-field fence. The youngster threw his hands in the air while running around the bases, showing off a huge smile.
The no-hitter was gone.
"I haven’t hit one in a while," Campos said with a smile. "When I hit it, it felt awesome."
Walks to Brysen Yoshii and Heleski, plus Kaho’ea Akau getting hit by a pitch, loaded the bases again.
Coomer switched to his third pitcher, right fielder Couch. But two straight pitches led to two runs. DeSa was hit by a pitch and Couch’s first offering to Baniaga slipped into the dirt and past his catcher.
The comeback was complete.
"I told the kids before the fourth to never give up and fight until the end," coach Yoshii said. "I just wanted them to leave it all on the field and continue to play with heart. You saw that everyone pulled together. That’s what our team is all about."
Heleski, who entered in relief of starter Dane Kaneshiro, baffled Hamilton.
The one hit he allowed was a single by Christian Halcomb in the sixth, which put runners on the corners with one out. With teammates Cody Maltezo and Keolu Ramos ready, Yoshii stuck with Heleski. The youngster responded by striking out a batter and forcing a grounder to Akau at second for the final out.
"After watching Ohio, I felt that I needed to give them a different look," Yoshii said. "They have some pretty good fastball hitters. He’s got great movement on the two-seamer and his curve is nasty. I was going to leave him in there maybe one time through the order or maybe one inning. But they never adjusted to him."
Hamilton had seven hits — including a 2-for-2 outing from Ryan Robinson. Four of its seven rips went for extra bases: three doubles and a home run.
"I felt good all game," Coomer said. "Brooks got that big hit in the fourth to give us a 4-0 lead, and he was kind of cruising along. The wheels kind of fell off and we just had a bad inning. Our guys are great players, and they have a great future ahead of them."